Saturday, September 27, 2008
If only I could just....breath!
I grew up in the mid-west and anyone that knows winters in the mid-west know that blizzards are one of the hazzards...as well as one of the benefits...to living there. I shall talk about the benefits to a good blizzard...from a purely personal point of view mind you.
When I was young fear was my constant companion...fear along with depression, anger, suspicion, anxiety, and just about every other negative feeling the human body can experience. While my friends were happy (Im guessing they were happy since their attitudes and facial expressions indicated thus) I was constantly considering the fact that I might not survive my childhood...and then later my teen years. I was constantly on a state of alert...in other words...most people might truly experience the "fight or flight" feeling once or twice in their lives...I lived with that feeling every day of my life....let me tell you...it was exhausting. Never being able to relax...never being able to let your guard down...I imagine if I ever went to war and was facing the battle field...I would already know and be familiar with that feeling that most soldiers experience just before the first shot is fired....the only difference being...I was a child.
When we talk about seasons and weather most people will describe Spring as being a time for re-newal and Winter as a time of death and decay. Alot of people with emtional and mental problems will fall into deep depressions during Winter...most of them shake it off somewhat when the first hints of Spring start showing up...but some of them just cant manage the cold, dark days of Winter and never make it to Spring...call me strange but I've always had a somewhat backward appreciation of Spring and Winter. For me Spring was a time when school was out...which meant I was home...home was a place of constant fear and anxiety...Winter, on the other hand, meant school was on and snow was just around the corner...and with snow came blizzards...my little bit of heaven on earth....let me explain.
When I was a child I use to lay in my bed at night and pretend to be dead...ok ok sounds morbid but there was a reason for it even if it doesnt make sense to all of you...it made sense to my childhood brain. If I were dead I would be in a position to meet God (I had learned in Bible school that all children got into heaven free from sin and guilt...so I was going on this assumption)..and when I met up with God I could ask Him why why why...the why's can be left for another time...sufficient to say I was anxious to get some answers and would spend a little bit of time each night (the nights that my bedroom door didnt open at some point) and lay there...holding my breath...clearing my mind....trying to "be"dead. Never worked of course because my mind could never be cleared (always always listening for that stealthy footstep in the hall) and eventually I had to breath...kind of ruined the whole experience....but I never gave up trying...where theres hope and all that....sigh!
Anyhow, along came Winter and I was one step closer to that much desired "death". Anyone that has ever experienced the morning after a good snowstorm knows that its a surreal feeling. Everything is white...all thats ugly is made beautiful...sharp corners are gone and all thats left is smooth powdery edges and intricate snow designs on every surface. I loved the mornings after a good blizzard. While the mid-west was lamenting blocked roads and kids were cheering schools closing and the electric companies were busy scrambling to bring us back to the 21st centurn....I was outside...acheiving my desire to be as close to dead as one can be while still breathing....picture this.
Snow is like a natural muffler....it muffles sound. The more snow there is the less we are able to correctly hear and gauge sound...where its coming from and how far away it is. Now...take a backwater country road...one intense blizzard the night before...and a young girl walking along in all this whiteness finally able to feel....nothing! When you walk through snow thats piled up higher than your head...you literally cannot hear anything except maybe the crunch of your feet as you walk. You get this specific sound in your head that I call White Noise...because it sounds like sound...but really...its the absence of sound...and its loud....but very soothing...very calming. If they could record that sound and put it on my MP3 player today...its all I would listen to...it would be all the therapy I ever needed. I forget how many times I would be ordered to go dig up some snowdrifts so my "father" could get out the door to work...and instead I would be lying in a snow tunnel listening to nothing and finally being able to pretend to be dead...and not have to hold my breath...because I imagined being dead meant not thinking...not hearing...not worrying...not dreading, fearing, hurting, crying, shaking, or any other "ing" you can think of...and when I laid in the snow tunnel...all feeling was shut off....just like that. I didnt even have to try...it just happened....all negative feelings just oozed off into the snow to be made clean and sparkly again...to be made beautiful...even if underneath it was still ugly. I sometimes wondered if anyone came out to find me if they would think I was actually dead...but with a smile on my face...cause I was so peaceful...Winter was my Spring....anyhow.
One thing about living in the Middle East is that its been rather a long time since a good blizzard swept through...and its just about the one thing I have missed the most...the re-juvinating spiritually cleansing abilites of a good snow storm on the soul...that absence of sound...that complete white out of the senses....when all feeling is gone...for just a little while...and one can relax...calm down...and just breath.